About That Stanford Study

Regarding that “Stanford Study”, the good people at Austin’s Sustainable Food Center writes to say..

On September 3, 2012 the New York Times published an article about a Stanford University study that allegedly dispels the nutritional advantages of organic food.  The response from the sustainable agriculture community regarding this study has been tremendous. Below we have provided links to articles we feel provide the best response to the claims made by this study.

Future of Organic Food and Agriculture at Risk

Action alert from The Cornucopia Institute

Dear Secretary Vilsack, Deputy Secretary Merrigan and NOSB members,

As an organic industry stakeholder, I respectfully request that you consider the following:

1.    I object to the NOSB and USDA leadership accommodating corporate interests that want to enhance their profits by including gimmicky synthetics and novel, patented ingredients in certified organic food.

 Martek Biosciences Corporation’s DHA/ARA oils are inappropriate for use in certified organic foods.  Some Martek oils are extracted with the neurotoxic petrochemical hexane, posing questions about human health and environmental impacts.

These supplements, from fermented algae and soil fungus, have never been part of the human diet.  In the late 1990s, Monsanto Corporation’s scientists genetically modified strains of algae for high DHA production (now marketed by Martek and added to some organic products).

Martek’s oils also contain various synthetic ingredients that have never been petitioned and approved for use in organics.  These include ingredients like mannitol, sodium polyphosphate, sodium ascorbate, glucose syrup solids and modified starch.

Adverse reaction reports filed with the FDA indicate at least a subset of infants suffer serious health complications after consuming formula supplemented with Martek oils.  Serious and prolonged gastrointestinal illnesses have resulted in hospitalizations and dangerous invasive diagnostic testing.  Many of the reports indicate that these babies recovered as soon as the Martek oils were removed from their diets.

Martek creates the impression that scientific consensus supports its DHA and ARA oils as beneficial supplements.  But Martek leaves out the preponderance of key studies which point to a single conclusion in independent scientific analysis: Martek DHA in infant formula does not benefit infant development.

2.    I object to the NOSB allowing factory farming practices in the production of chickens (both for egg and meat production) and hog production.

The livestock subcommittee’s proposal for requiring 2 square feet per laying hen, outside, is woefully inadequate, as are some of the other recommendations for poultry production (including turkeys) and the miserable amount of space proposed for hogs. These standards would literally make the US the laughingstock in international organic production and marketing.  Welfare benchmarks need to be mandated in the regulations, not merely in unenforceable “guidance.”

I support a minimum of 5 square feet per laying hen and enhanced space for pullets, turkey, other fowl and hogs.

3.    Enforce the organic standards on factory dairies masquerading as “organic.”

After the organic community has invested almost 11 years of policy debate, attempting to rein-in “factory farms,” milking thousands of cows each and masquerading as organic, it is entirely unacceptable that the USDA has been unwilling to expend the resources necessary to carefully verify whether these dairies, and their certifiers, are complying with the new regulatory benchmarks set in the “pasture rule.”

I respectfully ask USDA leadership to immediately verify that the largest producers of certified organic milk are not economically disadvantaging smaller ethical competitors or continuing to defraud consumers and that new rules immediately be promulgated to prevent conventional cattle from being brought on to organic dairy farms as replacements for expansion.

4.    And finally, I want to clearly go on record that I want the Obama administration to appoint the best and brightest representatives in the organic community to sit on the NOSB board, truly upholding the will of Congress.  No more corporate-backed imposters!

As a consumer, I buy food with the USDA Organic seal precisely to avoid unproven, questionably safe products like Martek’s oils—genetically novel and synthetic—in my diet and to support humane animal husbandry practices resulting in superior nutrition.

The NOSB should improve animal husbandry standards and reject the Martek petition for “DHA Algal Oil” and “ARA Single-Cell Oil.”  I call on the USDA to immediately remove these materials from the marketplace.

Thank you for listening to my concerns.

Sincerely yours,

Farm to Trailer

The word ‘organic’ gets tossed around a lot these days, but what does it really mean for consumers who are looking to eat well, but not spend a lot of money?

Farm To Trailer, a new documentary from local film producer Christian Remde highlights the award-winning Odd Duck food trailer in Austin, Texas and chef Bryce Gilmore’s use of only locally-grown, organic food for their menu. The film also examines the Farm To Table movement, how it’s effecting the Austin food scene and the benefits for consumers.

The film was really cool for me to watch, as it honors some of the very people and causes that I’ve come  depend upon for my own nourishment (indeed, it is where most of the food on this blog comes from).  Thank you, Christian!  Thank you, Austin!

  • Farmers’ Markets in Austin (edibleaustin.com)

Slow Money Austin

*** FOR RELEASE 4/12/2010 ***

Former Odwalla & Sweet Leaf Tea CEOs Join Visionary Investors
& Fellow Food Entrepreneurs To Talk Slow Money, April 21 & April 22

Austin, TX — April 12, 2010 — This April, companion events redefine the value of a healthy Central Texas food system, and reassess the role risk capital plays in fueling its growth. Joining the conversation are leading investors, entrepreneurs and regional sustainable food advocates.

The April 21 Slow Money Austin Showcase, held in partnership with the Sustainable Food Center and the City of Austin, provides an afternoon-­‐long program laying out the players, the issues and the opportunities involved in a healthy food system. With this event, Slow Money Austin brings together consumers, food businesses, civic leaders and investors to learn about the regional food chain, and explore funding alternatives essential to the continued growth of the regional food economy.

The following day, April 22, Slow Money Austin and nationally recognized Barr Mansion host a special Earth Day dinner prepared by the Dai Due Supper Club.

The dinner program combines a delectable exploration of the diverse, sustainably grown riches Central Texas has to offer with a continued dialog about funding growth in our region. In addition to a keynote presentation by Odwalla and Adina for Life founder Greg Steltenpohl.

At both events, made possible by underwriting sponsors Whole Foods Market and Barr Mansion, local food entrepreneurs embracing organic methods and focused on sustainability will discuss challenges and capital needs, suggesting myriad opportunities for investment and expansion. Presenters include food and beverage producers, distributors, restaurants, service providers and support businesses.

Collectively, these events and their participants present a complete picture of current local food enterprises, and a glimpse at what a more advanced, sustainable regional food system could look like.

For more information, please visit http://www.slowmoneyaustin.org

Join Us on April 21 & April 22!